October 8, 2003
"TRAUMATIC TESTIMONIES"—TSM #8—DO
REQUIRED READING FOR JETTS & TEENS AGE 11 & OVER!
Note: If your Home Teamwork feels led, selected
parts of this TSM #8 may be read to OCs.
Copyright: Nov. 1991, by Family Services, Zurich, Switzerland.
A Traumatic Testimony as told to Tony (formerly Zack Attack) by Jerry Paladino. (Uncle Jerry is a well-known Family musician & songwriter. He has worked in one of our music studios for years & has helped produce the DTD Tapes, the Memo Book Song Tapes & the music for the new GP Video Series. He's now mated to Auntie Marianne, & little Gabriel, whose story was told in FSMs 193 & 194 was his son.)
GBY! ILYSVM! The Lord laid it on my heart to send you this portion of my testimony. In the past months that you've been learning some lessons, you've mentioned several times that you have been tempted to leave the Family & try life in the System. But you also say that that's not really what you want to do. It's obvious that in the back of your heart & mind you've been entertaining the idea that you could go out in the System & make it & "be free," so I wanted to relate to you what happened to me when I tried that very thing. I pray this will be a help to you. Please know that I love you very much!
My sad story begins when I was 28 & my wife, Gentleness, was 25. We had three children at that time. We had been in Brazil for four years, during which time we had been involved in the Rio show group. During our time in Brazil we had been close to the leaders & had been quite well taken care of, perhaps we were even a little spoiled. Then the Letter that brought about the RNR arrived. (See ML#650.) This is the Letter in which Dad fired all the leadership, because they had strayed so far from his & Mama's sample, & because they weren't practicing the guidelines & vision laid down in the Letters. The Family really needed to be liberated from the bondage of these leaders or "the Chain," as it became known. Dad saw the need to connect everybody more directly to his & Mama's oversight through the Letters—so it was at this time that the Letters officially became the leaders.
Naturally, after the RNR & the removal of all the Family's leadership (except for a few newly appointed leaders who were called "Visiting Servants" or "VSs"), the Family went through a time of tremendous change & there was a certain feeling of disorder. In some ways, the Work & the Family as we had known it seemed to be disbanding around us. For a while many of the Homes lacked unity & our operations were quite chaotic. We felt like we were experiencing the Family at its worst, so we decided we wanted to break away from the Family & be missionaries on our own. We were tired of the problems that the Family had at that time, so we decided to go off & serve the Lord independently in a new country. (But I was soon to find out that the Family at its worst is a thousand or million times better than the System at its best!)
We set off for Mexico to be "missionaries". We planned to just live by faith & see what God had for us. To begin with, we spent about three months in the States at my parents' house & Gentleness' parents' house with the high hopes of raising support for our new field. We had the idea that there was lots of money in the System & we believed we had a good cause, so we were quite sure that we were going to easily be able to raise the support we needed to get to our new mission field.
Well, our stay in America was quite disappointing for us. After months of living with our relatives & partaking of the so-called "goodies" of System life & trying to win them with the Message, we still had very little funds, compared to what we needed. The last month we lived at my father's house, I decided to take a job as a longshoreman. Longshoremen unload the cargo from ships & box cars. At the time this sounded like a fun thing to do & I was looking forward to having a job & raising the money that we needed to be able to go on to Mexico. But I soon found out that being a longshoreman was no fun at all!
I had to get up at 4:30 or 5:00 every morning, & my sweet father drove me to work each day since I had no car. Then I'd have to wait with all these black guys for somebody to come along to hire us as temporary workers for the day. Those black men & I weren't union workers*, so we had no steady jobs. We were at the mercy of the companies who would come to do the hiring each day. Of course, not everyone got chosen to work each day, it just depended on how many guys showed up & how much work needed to be done. (*union workers: a group of workers joined together to protect & promote their interests.)
By a miracle, day after day I got chosen, so I spent each day unloading box cars & ships. This was very tiring work, lifting & carrying 100-pound sacks of grain etc. It was interesting for the first day or so, but after that I started dreading more & more waking up so early in the morning, being away from my family all day long, & coming home exhausted in the evening.
Of course, my parents wanted to watch television every evening & we gradually got sucked into watching it with them some of the time. We tried to keep strong & keep our guards up, but we just couldn't. Even now I can remember how I thought I'd be able to go out in the System & be strong & keep up the spiritual standard. I recall thinking very confidently that of course I'd be able to just walk away from the television. But that was not the case. You see, when you find yourself in that position, exhausted at night & without the strength & support from others around you who believe the same way you do, you begin to weaken. And pretty soon you do things you never imagined yourself doing & you sink to depths you never imagined possible.
I worked for a month as a longshoreman. After a month of working eight hours a day, carrying around 100-pound sacks, spending only Saturdays & Sundays with my wife & children, we had only managed to save a few hundred dollars. Even though that wasn't nearly enough money, we decided to leave for Mexico anyway. Our attempt to raise money in the System didn't have the fantastic results that I had expected. I think one of the main reasons our fund-raising was so unsuccessful was because where God guides, He provides, & we were in a state of independence. We wanted to do our own thing, rather than what God wanted us to do—so it's no wonder that the Lord didn't supply our needs! Perhaps the Lord had wanted us to stay in Brazil where we spoke the language & knew the country so we could continue to take care of the sheep we were ministering to & feeding. But we were set in our ways & had our minds made up about what we wanted to do. The Lord did not bless it. He definitely did not bless it financially!
So we headed off to Mexico with very little landing funds. On our way we spent some time at a Border Base trying to raise more money, but ended up spending a lot of what we had on some of the things of the System that tempted us, such as clothes, which was our main temptation, along with some of the other "goodies" you can find in the States. We ended up leaving for Mexico with only enough money to make it to Mexico City & stay in a hotel for a week.
So off we went, my wife & three children & I, with high hopes of doing something great & showing the World what great missionaries we were, how much faith & love we had, & how God was with us. However, as we arrived in Mexico City, which was then the biggest city in the World, with a population of 16 million people, we were soon hard hit with the reality of how much faith we did not have, as we had a great deal of trouble raising money there. It was quite difficult to even provision our food at times. We also had difficulty caring for the children & at the same time trying to witness & raise our support.
Right before our arrival, the Family in Mexico had received a great deal of persecution. Most of the foreigners had left the country & the Mexican brethren were scattered. The Family there had also been in a low spiritual state, as was prevalent before the RNR, so most of the national brethren were a little weak at that time. Though we wanted to help them, we had problems of our own & we were just trying to survive.
God bless those dear Mexican brethren! They took care of us as well as they could, but now I see that we should have been trying to take care of them. We could have done so much more to help them, but we were wrapped up in ourselves & our own problems & our little situation, so we did very little to encourage them. I had thought I was some kind of wonderful Shepherd, but when I had the chance to help those sweet Mexican brethren who were trying so hard to take care of us, I did very little for them. So I wasn't such a great Shepherd after all!
Because we insisted on doing our own thing, & we were determined to do things the way we thought they should be done, the Lord allowed us to be independent & go off on our own. He gave us what were the desires of our hearts at that time, but He sent leanness to our souls.
I met some Mexican musicians who knew I was an American keyboard player, so they immediately filled my head with visions of fame & fortune—especially because they wanted to use me & my talents for their own gain. They realised that since I was an American, I could sing in English & do the latest songs that were popular then in Mexico, so they wanted me to team up with them. Singing with a System band was something I had never done before, & it seemed like an interesting prospect.
Well, to begin with, I had to spend some time practicing, which I never liked doing. I didn't mind playing, that was always fun, but I never had much of a burden to practice—especially not four or five hours a day! We'd have to spend all that time learning songs & playing them together, singing them together, & then we would have a show here & there for a party or meeting etc. These shows usually took place at night, often starting as late as 10:00 or 11:00 & going until 1:00 or 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.
My plan at this time was, of course, to follow the Lord & be a faithful witness wherever I was. I did witness to these musicians, but there I was learning worldly songs & being unequally yoked with those unbelievers for the purpose of making money. So I lost a great deal of my conviction & the power of the Spirit. And even as badly as I wanted to stay pure & undefiled & true to the Lord, from the very first weeks I could see myself slipping & compromising on many issues. Of course these compromises were often about small things, yet they were the "little foxes" that began to "spoil the vines". (SoS.2:15) These little compromises began to undermine my sample & conviction & faith, as well as my relationship with the Lord.
This also started to affect my relationship with my wife & my kids. I had to spend a lot of time away practicing worldly songs, working with worldly & often ungodly people, & though Gentleness & I did our best to try to pray & counsel together, our relationship was under attack & our little family was being battered by the Enemy. We were alone in the System without the protective influence of the Family, & soon we began arguing frequently, having problems with coveting things, & gradually we grew weaker & weaker in our relationship with the Lord. I began by being away at work for at least two nights every week. Then the band got a job at a club so I was away five or six nights every week!
The club we played at was on the other side of the city from where we lived, so though I got a ride with the musicians to work, I would often have to come home by myself after work. The other band members usually wanted to stay out late & drink & pick up girls, but I just wanted to get home to be with my family & try to continue my missionary work. So I was forced to either hitchhike home at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, which was very dangerous, or take public transportation, which was not only a bit costly, but it would take an hour or two to get home! When I finally got home I would be drained & exhausted.
It was around that time that Dad came out with the Letters on DTD witnessing. (See "DTD Witnessing!", ML# 769.) I'm sure the Lord was trying to give us concrete direction for our lives through those Letters. This guidance from Dad to start DTD witnessing was sort of like a "second bus" that the Lord was sending along to help us get back in His Will. (See "Keep on Believing," ML#1268.) We could have jumped on that "bus", & even though it wouldn't have been God's best, the job He had really wanted us to be doing had we stayed in His highest Will back in Brazil in full fellowship with the Family, at least He could have probably supplied for us better & perhaps that "bus" would have eventually taken us back to where we should have been in the first place.
But we didn't jump wholeheartedly into getting back into God's Will & obeying the Letters & following closely. We continued living self-ishly & trying to serve the Lord our own way, independently & compromised, & now I can see very clearly now I made the wrong choice at that time in my life, which in the long run cost me my wife & children & nearly cost all of us our service for the Lord, except for the merciful, loving, rescuing grace of God.
At that time in Mexico we couldn't distribute literature openly due to the persecution they had recently had, which was one reason why I thought I had to take this System job. Through the new Letters that arrived at that time, the Lord was trying to show us His plan to deliver us from that System job & help us raise support while witnessing in the wonderfully warm & personal way of door-to-door. The Lord was giving us His way out through Dad's timely Letters teaching us about door-to-door witnessing, but in my heart I wanted to work for money. In a strange sort of way I liked the idea of working for money, which was something I had not really done much of before.
Also, another main reason that I rejected the Lord's direction was because I was too proud at that time to go witnessing door-to- door. We had tried going witnessing like that, but it was so very humbling for me. The Lord had tried to encourage us, as the very first time I tried it, the Lord led us to a very precious sheep who got wonderfully saved & I'm sure we could have followed up on him & done so much more with him, had I made the correct choice! And I'm sure we could have met more wonderful sheep this way, but in my heart I wanted to work for money, so I rejected the Lord's guidance! I opted for what I thought was fast & easy money, as opposed to the slower process of "living by faith" & waiting for God to supply as He guides. I didn't want to be that dependent on the Lord & His supply. I didn't want to just take what He gave us, I wanted to go out & raise money on my own. I wanted to have enough money to be able to buy whatever I felt like buying. Well, I was in for a rude awakening!
At that time I decided to break away from the music business because it didn't seem very steady or stable & it wasn't bringing in enough funds. So I looked around for something else. We had been fellowshipping with another brother who had what looked like a good job at Berlitz, an English language school. He had a steady job. In fact, he had what appeared to me to be an ideal situation—a job where you could meet & talk to people & witness to them about the Lord & still raise support while you were doing it. That job seemed to me like being paid to witness. It looked like a much better opportunity than being a musician, where you play music for people, but don't really have a chance to witness in any way. My goal was still to try to be a missionary, & this language school seemed like a more conducive atmosphere for witnessing than playing in a band.
So I quit the band I was playing with & went to apply for a job at Berlitz. I got accepted & learned their method of teaching English. Although it was a very expensive & high-class school, they paid their teachers only a small salary since it is owned by an AC company in New York. So I would have to work six to eight hours a day & we still barely had enough money to pay our rent. The Lord had helped us to find a nice condominium (apartment) to rent on the outskirts of the city in quite a beautiful area, but we lived there for about five months with no furniture except for one bed. The "steady money" from my English teaching job at least paid for our basic necessities, but after paying for our rent & food, we had little money left to purchase anything else. And since I was working all the time there was no time to do any type of provisioning.
This situation reminds me of the quote, "If you leave things in God's hands, then God will take care of them. But if you take things into your own hands, then you have to take care of them yourself!" We had taken our lives into our own hands & chosen to go our own way, so we were having to pay our own bills. Even though we were trying to spend our money as wisely as we could, we only had enough money to eat & pay our rent, that was it. We could make no progress toward buying furniture or getting a vehicle of any kind. We were constantly in a state of barely having enough money to survive!
I spent five or six days a week at the language school trying to teach English & witness at the same time. Well, it turned out that while some of the students were sheepy, a lot of the students did not want to be witnessed to, they only wanted to learn English. So there I was again in an atmosphere that was not as conducive to witnessing as I had anticipated it would be.
Since we were on our own & not living with other Family Members, we were not strengthened in any way. You can sit in a Family Home & picture yourself being very strong if you were out in the System on your own. But you know, as soon as you are actually out there alone, it doesn't take long until you realise how weak you really are & how little faith you have compared to the great faith & love you have when you are surrounded by your Family. Going out on your own aptly illustrates the principle of how the ember reacts when it's taken away from the fire.—It doesn't take long before the ember that was once hot & red & on fire, becomes dark & cold!
Our dreams were not being fulfilled as we had hoped they would be. We both felt disappointed & our situation began affecting our relationship. God was not blessing us as we thought He would, because we were not doing things His way. The kids did not have a daddy most of the time as I was usually away from home at my job, which put the load of caring for the home & the kids almost entirely on Gentleness. She was like a System housewife, staying at home alone all day, taking care of the kids, & she was getting a bit stir-crazy from being home alone with no one to talk to but the children. She started to fellowship with other System women with the hopes of witnessing to them & being a missionary to them. But, because of the persecution that had taken place in Mexico shortly before, we had to be somewhat selah & appear as "normal" as possible. This gradually ate away at our convictions, because we were constantly hiding the fact that we were part of the Family.
Even during the time we did spend together we would just argue. We were becoming familiar with each other & our marriage was crumbling. Our kids were also beginning to suffer, as we were allowing them to partake of our sins, watching TV & eating junk food, etc. We knew such activities weren't good for us, but whenever everyone around you is living that way, you easily fall into wasting your time, money & health on those things too.
It was at that point that I decided to ask my father for a loan. I had the vision that, "Well, all we need is a little money to get ahead & then we can start making some real progress." So I asked my father for a $5,000 loan, which he was really sweet to grant, GBH. We planned to pay him back over the next three years or so. When we received this money it was a day of rejoicing for us as we were able to purchase a vehicle & get some furniture for the house & make what seemed to be some steps forward.
We looked around for a vehicle for some time & ended up getting a Volkswagen camper, because we had the vision of taking the kids around witnessing & camping out. But from the very first day we had this camper it had problems, & it ended up eating away at our finances, as we were always paying for repairs. So we decided it would be best to sell it & go back to the States to get a caravan & a vehicle to pull it. So we spent some more time in Texas trying to raise funds & find the proper vehicle & trailer.
We had a lot of trouble selling the van that was giving us so much trouble, & in the end we took a loss as we had to sell it for quite a bit less than we had bought it for. Also, the furniture that we had bought for the house really didn't last very long as it was pretty cheaply made. So we had not really invested the money that we had borrowed from my dad as wisely as we should have. The furniture was like so many things in the System, it had a nice, shiny, veneer surface & looked pretty, but it was not solidly built.
We then wanted to buy a caravan, because we felt if we could travel around, it might free us to do more witnessing, rather than being tied down to an apartment & having to pay rent etc. At that time the Mobile Ministry Letters were coming out & Dad was leading the Family to go mobile. You see, the problem was that while we were trying to obey in some things, like going mobile, we were out of God's Will. We had stepped out of God's Will when we left Brazil & left our plow deserted in the field; we started to do our own thing & live independently & selfishly, so it was impossible for the Lord to bless us.
Well, we finally bought a caravan, went back to Mexico, & were living outside of the city in a real pleasant campground. We were paying less rent, TTL, but now I had to drive long distances to work each day & I had to leave Gentleness & the children alone at the trailer park most of the time. My faith & convictions were being eaten away as I was with System people all day, & at the same time, my wife's convictions were being eaten away & her fellowship with Systemites was also taking its toll upon her. So our sample was definitely crumbling, as well as our unity & life of faith!
Then there appeared what seemed to be a "golden opportunity" to work as a musician again in what seemed to be an ideal job. In Mexico the top singers & recording artists make their biggest money by flying around the country playing in hotels for two nights at a time, or playing at the cock fights. At the cock fights is where they really make a lot of money. This job sounded interesting to me & it looked like an inspiring way to perhaps see the country & raise some quick money. The way it works is that some famous singer hires a band of musicians to accompany him. You all practice a little bit together & then everybody gets on a plane & flies to some place where you stay in a fancy hotel, eat free meals, do your show, & then come back with good pay.
At the time the door opened for this job, I was working six days a week, six or eight hours a day, teaching English, & this looked like an ideal opportunity to make more money with less work, which is the goal of every Systemite. It looked like with this new job I would make more money in one or two nights than I was then making in a whole week at the language school. I thought the Lord had raised this job up so I would not have to work as much & would therefore be able to spend more time with my family. We even thought we would be able to do more witnessing, which we then had very little time to do, since all my time was taken up with raising money to keep us fed, clothed & housed, & Gentleness' fulltime job was raising our now four children. So we decided that I should take the new job.
The musicians were pretty sweet to me & took me in & I began getting a few jobs here & there. There was one big obstacle though. In Mexico the musician's union is real strong. I wasn't a member of the union, so I was not able to work out a situation where I could work legally. So I was left out of many money-making jobs because I was a foreigner. Although the opportunity looked so great, the Lord never blessed it. He never let me find a way to become a fulltime musician. I'm sure He didn't want me to become as successful playing System music as I wanted to become at that time.
The first singer I worked for seemed very sweet. He was very happy to have me around, as long as he could exploit me & use me to make lots of money for himself. My vision was to bring my family along on some of these trips so we could see the country & spend more time together. One time, instead of going by bus with the singer & the other musicians, I opted to take my trailer & wife & kids along. So I drove the six or eight hours it took to get to the area where we would be rehearsing. But when I got there my car broke down.
I was then in a bit of a mess, so after the show I explained the situation to my boss. He was furious that I had brought my family with me & he fired me on the spot! He left me there with only the money that he owed me for the job we had done the night before, which I had to spend on car repairs. He had no heart to help me take care of my problems, & he left us there to work things out on our own. He basically never wanted to see me again, which was quite a shock to me.
You see, I had to try to believe in these people that I was working for. But it was very hard to believe in them since they were only in it for themselves, & all of their songs were shallow love songs with little or no message at all. I was getting more & more disillusioned, & it certainly didn't help any when this guy fired me & left me in such a predicament. We somehow managed to make our way home.
I later got a better job with an up-&-coming singer. This may sound like a glorious job, but the kind of work I was doing, let me tell you, was far from glorious. We would go to some town in Mexico with this top singer & we'd drive out to an arena where they were having cock fights. I don't know if you have ever seen a cock fight, but it's a pretty gruesome fight between two cocks (roosters). The owners of the cocks attach some kind of razor blades to their feet & the two cocks fight with each other until one of them gets killed. Toward the end of the show, just before the last fight, the musicians haul their instruments down into the arena & set them up right in the middle of the mud & feathers & blood. We had about five minutes to get all set up & then we did six or seven songs for a bunch of drunk guys. We'd play the famous songs of the singer we were accompanying & then we'd haul our instruments out of the arena, again within five minutes.
It is really gross, but this is where the big money is for these popular singers. The top singers from the recording companies end up going to these mud pit cock fights to make big money.
Of course, we did some shows in hotels & other places too, but if we played in those types of places I always had problems with the union. Another problem was that the singer was always haggling over how much he had to pay the musicians, & the musicians were always complaining that they weren't getting paid enough. Everyone was murmuring against everybody & it was a pretty awful atmosphere to be in, especially when you are used to the Family where people speak faith & praise the Lord & are thankful. To have to listen to all these guys sitting around, getting drunk & complaining about their lot in life was such a drain!
I thought this job was probably going to be a pretty glorious time. I thought I was going to travel around & see the country, meet new people & witness. But I must say, I spent most of my time with the musicians, listening to their stories & dirty jokes, learning their rude slang, & spending a lot of lonely nights in glorious, but empty, five-star hotels. When I say empty, I don't mean there were no people around. There were lots of people, but under those circumstances it was very difficult to witness. I was in a compromised situation where I was working for money & unequally yoked with unbelievers. I had no sample to back up my sermons. Though some of the musicians & people I met were sheepy, others would often just mock me.
Anyway, to make a long story shorter, the new guy I was working for really liked me & he felt I could write musical arrangements for his songs. He fired his main keyboard player & made me the leader of his band. At first I thought he had done this because I was "so talented", but later I found out that it was because his former band leader had been complaining too much about his wages & seemed to be more trouble than he was worth. So the singer fired him & had me be the main keyboard player.
It was one of my wildest dreams to do musical arrangements & to work with violins & French horns & instruments that I had never worked with before. I poured my heart & soul into a song he wanted to record & did what I think was a very beautiful arrangement. But I must admit, when it was finished it was husks between my teeth, because there were all these beautiful instruments playing a gorgeous arrangement, instruments that had been my heart's desire to work with—but all this beauty was surrounding & complementing the dead lyrics of some dead System song. In some ways I was fulfilling one of my dreams, which was to be an arranger, & yet it was all for what?—Just for some meaningless, short-lived, human-love song that was here today & gone tomorrow & did nothing to really help anybody.
I believe the Lord was showing me, "Well, this is what you wanted to do! I gave you the desires of your heart.—Now how do you like the leanness of soul that comes along with it? You wanted to do things your way? Well, I've let you. How does it feel?" When I had this job I was being paid the best that I had ever been since I'd been in Mexico. I was making what to me was a considerable amount of money & I was doing what I wanted to do, record music. It was kind of a counterfeit (imitation) of what the Lord had waiting for me in the Family. The Devil was trying to offer me what the Lord actually had planned that I would do some day for Him!—What I am in fact doing now with my work in the studio.
The Lord was letting me taste the Devil's counterfeit, along with leanness to my soul, & I must say it tasted like husks! I wanted to enjoy & revel in the victories, but the victories were hollow! I had to ask myself, "What's all this for?" My work on those songs was really only for money & for the experience & the selfish pleasure of working with those kinds of instruments. That work was definitely not for the glory of winning anybody to the Lord or changing the World in any way. I had become a Systemite. Of course, I was still a Christian, but I was only working for money, while struggling to try to be as good a sample as I could in the System, which was impossible!
Meanwhile, we were squandering the money we were making. The Lord was not blessing our lives & we were still in debt, still unable to pay off the loan from my father. Our marriage was suffering tremendously, because although we thought this was a good way to raise support quickly & spend less time in the System, it turned out that we were having to spend just as much time in the System as ever. The reason for this is because in the System you have to go all the way with them if you want them to go all the way with you. The singer I was working for was now demanding that I make a commitment & get more serious about my work for him by dedicating more time & strength to rehearsals etc.
Up until that time I had been trying to do just enough to get by with that singer & still try to continue my service for the Lord on the side. But he was now wanting me fulltime. The System was wanting more & my wife was wanting more & I was being torn between the two. The Lord was being crowded out. Our marriage was suffering greatly. We were both alone in the System, surrounded by System people. Some were very sweet, but they were Systemites nonetheless. And we were getting more & more in debt all the time.
I was beginning to taste the husks between my teeth & the pressure of supporting my family & keeping our heads above water financially was becoming more than I could bear. I found no comfort at home any more. Every time I would go home we spent 50% of our time arguing. The Word was losing its power & meaning in our lives.
Finally I cried out to the Lord & asked Him to deliver us. I was crying out for help, & it was around that time that Dad & Mama sent Faithy & Juan to our part of the World to rescue some of us backslidden musicians like Watchman, Singin' Sam, Micah, myself & others. They came to try to salvage us for the Lord's service.
After some time with Faithy & Juan in Mexico, we were called to Puerto Rico to help with the Spanish "Music with Meaning Show" (Musica Con Vida). PTL! My father supernaturally forgave our debt, we sold what few belongings we had, & we were able to pull out of the System trap that the Devil had us in. I shouldn't even blame it on the Devil, since it was really my own fault for willingly walking into his trap due to my pride & my desire to be independent, self-sufficient & to do things my way.
I can't warn you enough, because I know that even by thinking for an instant that you can make it out there, you're walking into the Devil's trap! The only way you can make it to success in the System is by selling your soul to the Devil. As the Devil said when talking to Jesus, as he showed Him all the kingdoms of the World in a moment of time, "All of these will I give You, if You will worship me."—Luk.4:5-8.The System has been given over to the Devil, & he only rewards those who give him their all, just as the Lord greatly rewards those who give Him their all!
I can tell you from personal experience that the only way to be a success in the World is by giving the Devil your all. As long as I tried to serve the Lord and Mammon, Mammon never rewarded me. The only time I got more money was when I gave more of myself to Mammon. The deeper in I got, the leaner my soul became, & the leaner my service for the Lord became, & the more my family & I suffered from spiritual starvation in a spiritual desert.
Thank the Lord, my story has a beautiful ending, because we were called back to fulltime service for the Lord. We were forgiven & reinstated, & now I have a wonderful life & ministry in the Family. But there is also a sad side to my story, which is another thing I would like to warn you about, Tony. I know you love your wife & child very much. Well, I can tell you with full conviction that the time Gentleness & I spent in the System took a tremendous toll on us! The seeds that were planted during the time we played footsie with the Devil & the System wreaked havoc on our relationship, causing weeds to grow up that eventually destroyed our beautiful garden.
The three years that we spent trying to serve both the Lord & Mammon ruined our love, trust, faith, unity, our united relationship in the Lord, & brought the downfall of our house. A house divided cannot stand, & we were divided & away from the Lord & the Word for so long that some of the damage was irreparable. Our time in the System can be compared to a house going through a major earthquake. After the earthquake the house may still be standing, but many times the damage to the house is irreparable & sooner or later the house will fall when other storms of life come along.
If you love your wife & children, never toy with the idea that you can make something out of yourself in the System. You don't realise what it's like out there. If you take your little family out there, you'll be like three people hanging on to a log in the middle of the ocean during a storm. And you may start seeing your loved ones slip away one by one, as they are engulfed by the waves or eaten by the sharks & carnivorous beasts!
The Devil may tempt you with thoughts of how great you can be & the great work you can do if you are only "free" to do things your way. And if you continue to entertain those thoughts, God may let you have your way & He may give you the desires of your heart, but right along with it, & I can guarantee this from personal experience, you will get leanness to your soul & you will have the scars & marks for the rest of your life to prove it.
Even after hearing this warning you may still want to try the System. You might still want to go out there, & maybe you aren't afraid of suffering & being broken & learning through bitter experience. But do you want to drag your wife & child out there with you & watch them be broken & slowly die before your eyes? It really is like Grandpa said, for the people who live in Shangri-la, when they leave, just like in the movie, they age quite rapidly. If you take your wife & child out of the shadow of the Lord's protection & blessing, you will see them change. If you pull your beautiful young wife out of the Family & into the System, I guarantee she won't be very beautiful for very long.
Our Family women are beautiful as they serve the Lord & live in an atmosphere of faith. They prosper & thrive & they are the most beautiful women in the World. And it is heartbreaking to watch one of those beautiful women become a Systemite. If you dare to take your wife out to the System, the woman who used to give you so much happiness & pleasure & who was such a joy to be with will slowly but surely become a "continual dropping" (Pro.27:15) as she stops speaking faith & starts complaining & wanting all the things that the System has to offer. If you take her out there & put her in a situation where she is outside the protective shield of God, you will watch her age incredibly, & you might even get to the point where you wonder why you ever loved her in the first place, especially if you end up slaving away to keep her fed, clothed, housed & satisfied.
You may think there is more freedom & independence outside the Family & you may think you can do things your own way out there, but let me tell you, there are more rules out there than you can even imagine! The System is the land of rules & laws! Our rules are based on Love & doing things the right way, doing what's best for the overall Family. There's a loving reason for our rules, whereas the System has endless rules & red tape & regulations, which have no purpose or meaning other than the torture of its citizens by their lord & master, Satan!
So I want to warn you, dear Tony, that all that glitters is not gold, & the more you think about the System & its so-called freedoms & opportunities, the more chance you will have of end-ing up being there very soon! "And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned."—Heb.11:15. Please read Proverbs 4:18-27, which is very sobering. The Book of Proverbs is a beautiful Book written to young people who are eager to discover life, such as yourself, & who are standing at the crossroads of decision.
Tony, I really love you! You are a talented man, you have lots of potential in many areas, which the Lord wants to develop. But if you choose to do things your own way, you will lose it all. Do you know Singing Sam? He's an example of a talented man who left the Family. He was in the System for a few years, & when he finally came back to the Family it took him years to get cleansed & back to the same place of usefulness. When he returned to the Family, he didn't just get on with serving the Lord exactly in the same way & same situation as before he had left. And Uncle Sam suffered a big loss as a result of his backsliding—as you read in his Traumatic Testimony, his wife & all their children stayed in the System! (For more details, please see "Teen Specials" #5.)
Likewise, when I returned to the Lord's service, He had to purge me & cleanse me as well, which also took several years. You don't just jump right back on where you got off. It takes time & struggle & toil to regain your place of service in the Family & to recover from being backslidden in the System!—If you get back at all! After months or years of being away from close fellowship with the Lord & the Family, you get dull spiritually, & it takes time to get back in tune to where you're sensitive to the Lord's Spirit & voice again.
But I can testify that since I yielded my all to Him, He has given me more than my heart's desires! He has gone beyond my dreams & is now giving me even the secret desires of my heart, which I didn't even know I had. My dreams have been more than fulfilled & God has had me do more than I ever even hoped, because I finally yielded my life & my service to Him & decided to let Him have His way. I yielded to my leadership & those whom the Lord has chosen to lead this Family. I entrusted my life & the lives of my loved ones into their hands, & the Lord has since been "better to me than a known way," & He has fulfilled far beyond my wildest dreams, PTL!
I love you & pray for you & hope this testimony is a blessing to you. May the Lord help you to make the right decision!
With much love, Jerry
(Editor's note: You'll be happy to hear that dear Gentleness & their children are also very happy & fruitful serving the Lord in Latin America. PTL!)
1) Uncle Jerry got off the track at the time of the RNR. When explaining how things were at that time, he said they "felt like they were seeing the Family at its worst." It sounds like things weren't going too smoothly for a while, doesn't it? In fact, maybe you've heard people talk about the RNR & it might sound to you like it wasn't a very good time at all for the Family. You might even wonder why in the world Grandpa would have even had the RNR in the first place—if it caused so much "trouble".
Well, why don't you read over paragraphs 2-4 of Uncle Jerry's testimony again & then discuss it with your Shepherds or parents, & let's see if we can think of some of the main reasons why the Lord led Grandpa to have the RNR & fire all the leadership at that time.
2) One of the biggest differences between the Family & the churches is that Grandpa isn't stuck in any ruts. He never tries to preserve the status quo*. He isn't looking to just have large numbers of people in the Family. He's for quality, not quantity. He will change whatever needs to be changed in order to keep moving & on the attack for Jesus. (*status quo: The way things are.)
For example, you have all recently experienced the changes of the Discipleship Training Revolution, which has probably affected your lives very personally & in a very big way. But did you know that there have been many many such big changes & revolutions in the history of the Family? Maybe you're not even aware of some of them. For example, to begin with, the birth of the Family itself was a huge revolution as we dropped out of the churches, schools & System entirely! Then after a few years of having personal witnessing as our main means of getting the Message out, Grandpa wrote a very radical & bottle-breaking Letter called "Shiners?—or Shamers!" (ML#241) It was after this Letter, way back in 1973, that we began to litness & receive cash donations for the MO Letters, which was an avenue the Lord used to not only witness by using our lit, but also to raise support!
Then two years later there was a series of Letters that brought about another revolution—The New Revolution! This time the Lord led Grandpa to help us get more on the ball & reduce the size of our Homes, win more disciples, get out more lit & train more leaders. Then three years later, around the time of the RNR, the Lord really exploded in a radical move with the FF Revolution!—That was a very big change in our witnessing methods & we adults started to reach a whole new class & age of people. And we learned lots of good lessons & got loads of publicity.—Not to mention the fact that this revolution caused us to be forever separated from the established church system. Our freedom & methods of witnessing were so radically different from the churches that it set us apart from them & helped guarantee that we would stay "dropped out" & not fall back into the mold of the established church system & their way of doing things! PTL!
Then in 1979 there was the NRS Series, which brought about the "Nationalise, Reorganise, Be Security-Wise" Revolution. Through these Letters, Grandpa taught us about living underground & witnessing door-to-door. (These are the Letters Uncle Jerry refers to in his testimony.)
In the years that followed, Grandpa continued to lead us in one revolution after another. There was the Fellowship Revolution in 1981, through which our unity & fellowship were greatly strengthened. And a few years later we had a big missionary move to go South & East. Then our witnessing methods changed greatly when Grandpa produced the Posters in 1984, which were soon followed by the DTD Tapes!—Millions for the billions! PTL!
Then we had our first TTCs in 1986. That was a big revolution as our young people were challenged to truly dedicate their lives to be disciples for Jesus. That meant more training for the Teens!
Another whopper change!—In 1987 we adults stopped FFing completely & began the DFing Revolution & the Word Witnessing Revolution! You young people probably remember the big change in our witnessing methods when we weren't able to spend so much time Postering openly on the streets & we started to concentrate on more follow-up, in order to win more kings, supporters & disciples. Shortly thereafter the Lord also supplied us with a thrilling new witnessing tool—Videos! Whew! What a revolutionary Family!
Do you recall how only just a few years ago Grandpa led the Family to have Schools?—That too was probably a change that affected you personally very much. Now we have lots of Schools all over the World & our young people are getting much better training & education.
Grandpa & Mama Maria & our other leaders are always looking for ways to improve things. We always need to keep changing & improving & growing, right? So that's why there was a need for the DTR, which is the most recent revolution that we've all been blessed to be a part of. PTL!
What a revolutionary history the Family has! Well, these are just a few of the main revolutions & they're not explained very fully here, but you can discuss these points with your Shepherds, & they can explain further how life in the Family is full of lots & lots of big changes & revolutions! Hallelujah! It's a Revolution!—For Jesus!
Now, let's discuss why you think the Lord allows the Family to have revolutions like this?
3) If there is a big revolution going on in the Family—maybe something like the DTR—during which time things seem a little up-in-the-air & look a little chaotic, because of the many changes, what do you think you should do to avoid making the same mistakes Uncle Jerry made right after the RNR when he went off on his own to do his own thing?
4) When Uncle Jerry & his wife went off on their own to live independently, they had the idea that they'd still be missionaries. They weren't planning to actually backslide, they just wanted to do things their own way. But after a very short time they weren't being missionaries at all, they were living like Systemites.
What reasons can you see that make it impossible to really serve the Lord fulltime & with your whole heart & be a success in the System at the same time?
5) We know that where God guides, He provides. a) Think of some Bible verses that show that God's blessing is contingent on our obedience & service to Him. b) Taking these verses into consideration, why do you think the Lord did not bless Uncle Jerry financially when he was on his own in Mexico?
6) a) Please discuss why it was a big mistake for Uncle Jerry to continue working at his System job instead of going DTD witnessing as the new Letters at the time were leading. b) Have you ever resisted the direction of any new Letters? If so, please explain the bad fruit it bore in your life. c) How did you overcome your resistance? Please discuss.
7) Why do you think Uncle Jerry & Auntie Gentleness' marriage relationship began to fall apart after they had been on their own in the System for a while?
8) How did Uncle Jerry get "the desires of his heart, but leanness to his soul"? (Psa.106:15) What does that mean? (See pg.9.)
9) Discuss what "counterfeit" means in this context: What does it mean that the Devil will give you a "counterfeit" of the Lord's blessing?
10) a) What does it mean when Uncle Jerry says his success tasted like "husks"? b) And why were the victories of the beautifully recorded song "hollow victories"? c) Have you ever had a similar experience? Please discuss.
11) Uncle Jerry says that the damage that had been done to his family while he was in the System was irreparable, & eventually, as a result, he & his wife separated. Why do you think the Lord sometimes allows us to suffer some great loss as a result of our backsliding, even after we've returned to His service?
12) If you're tempted with thoughts of going to the System & thinking you could make it out there or have a System job and be a missionary, what should you do? Consider the following:
[—AMEN!—GOD BLESS YOU!—WLY!]
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